*Irish group Kingspan should be one of several companies facing bills for repairs to buildings now judged unsafe following a fire that killed 72 people, a British government minister suggested this week.
British communities secretary Michael Gove indicated to a UK parliament committee that he intended to make Kingspan, Saint-Gobain and Arconic pay to bring buildings into line with regulations passed following the Grenfell fire in London in 2017.
Kingspan’s K15 insulation was used on Grenfell Tower, where a fire killed 72 people, although the Irish business maintains that it did not know the product was supplied to the company that fitted the material to the building.
Mr Gove told the Westminster parliament’s housing committee that leaseholders should not have to pay for work to ensure that apartment buildings complied with rules introduced to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
He did not name any business, but when asked why his government should not foot the repairs bill, he indicated that developers and construction materials companies should contribute.
Kingspan did not comment on Wednesday.
K15 accounted for just 5 per cent of the insulation on Grenfell Tower. Celotex, a subsidiary of French giant Saint-Gobain, supplied most of the insulation.
The Irish company recently said it agreed with findings from an inquiry that the polyethylene cored cladding used on the building – which was not a Kingspan product – was mainly to blame for the fire’s spread.
“Any considered review of the available evidence supports our position that the type of insulation used on the tower made no material difference to the nature and speed of the spread of the fire,” Kingspan pointed out.
However, the Grenfell inquiry uncovered emails from Kingspan UK staff dating back to 2009 that joked about the fact that fire safety tests on K15 were flawed.
Kingspan maintains that tests on K15 have since been repeated and provided evidence to support the original safety claims for the product.
“Arising from the inquiry process, Kingspan has identified and apologised for process and conduct shortcomings in its UK insulation business,” the group said recently.
Following independent reviews, the company says it has taken steps to ensure there would not be a repeat of the shortcomings and reinforced its focus on fire safety.
* This article was edited on Thursday, November 11th, 2021